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What is ayA Con?

The narrative around Indigenous peoples is that we are history, and romanticized history at that. When most people think of the word Indigenous they immediately picture tribally enrolled Native Americans. But the word Indigenous means of or from the land, and every human is Indigenous to someplace, in Lakota we say 'Mitakuye Oyasin" We are all related. The purpose of ayA Con is to reconnect with that core knowledge and celebrate indigeneity with the people who are Indigenous to this land. 

We hope visitors come to ayA Con to build connections, celebrate culture, and bond over fandoms! Our show is very eclectic. We have a wide range of artistic practices, music, and stories, all centered around the things we love. There is something for everyone! Visitors can leave a photo or tribute to loved ones they have lost in our Ofrenda exhibit,  participate in panels, engage in artmaking activities, play with mini tech decks, see dance performances, celebrate their heritage, and dress up as their favorite fictional characters. Come to the Futurisms Fashion showcase on Sunday night to show off your formal takes on cosplay, and cultural futurism fashions and watch a colorful show with drag queens, designers, performers, and dancers. Also with ayA Con admission, visitors can gain access to the rest of the Denver Art Museum and visit the new permanent galleries, Modern & Contemporary Art, African Arts, and Arts of Oceana.

Frequently asked questions

Q: Do I have to identify as Native American or Indigenous to take part in ayA Con? 

A: Nope! We welcome everyone and just ask that you come with an open mind, be ready to learn new things, and be respectful. 

Q: I don't have any Native or Indigenous characters in my comics, should I create a character to fit in?

A: We prefer you not tokenize or create a character for the sake of "fitting" our show. If you have already done your research and have representation in your story, great! But please don't feel like you will be out of place at our show if you don't, as we stated ayA Con is for everyone to experience and we encourage you to look into your own culture and celebrate the roots of that rather than try to fit in. 

Q: I want to cosplay, is that ok at this show?

A: Absolutely! We are all mad here, please feel free to show up as Star Wars, Avatar Last Air Bender Characters, Disney, Marvel, and all the fandoms in between. 

Q: As it is an Indigenous con, should I dress up as a Native character?

A: So this one is a little tricky, it depends on the character you are wanting to cosplay. If you come as Echo from Marvel or your own take on Moana that is great but we advise against leaning into stereotypes. Please only cosplay characters that you know a lot about and have a real connection with. Also only cosplay fictional characters, we would prefer NO POCAHONTAS cosplays as she was a real person and a victim of child rape and sex trafficking.  We realize there is the Disney Princess version but Pocahontas cosplays can be a very sensitive subject among Native people so it is best to avoid it. If you show up in a cheap Spirit Halloween "Native" "Mexican" or any other distasteful costume not cosplay you will be asked to change or leave. Our number one rule is to be respectful. 

Q: What is the difference between Cultural Appropriation and Appreciation?

A: There are many answers to this question but we feel it boils down to respect, being thoughtful, and understanding. Appropriation happens when the wearer doesn't understand (or care) about the history or meaning of something. To appreciate is to understand the impact and purpose of why/when and how we wear certain things. 

Q: What is the difference between Cosplay, Costumes, and Regalia? 

A: Cosplay, "costume play", is an activity and performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character.

Costume,  an outfit worn to create the appearance characteristic of a particular period, person, place, or thing. You may see costume elements in our Futurism Fashion Showcase.

Regalia, special dress. Throughout ayA Con you will see various versions of all three of these. Please do not refer to the clothing that the dancers wear as "costumes", both our Azteca dancers and powwow dancers will be wearing cultural regalia.   

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